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Gaia scientist to be OPT patron

Greens “hiding from the truth” on population and climate change

James Lovelock, the scientist responsible for the Gaia theory, today (Wednesday, August 26) describes environmentalists who campaign on climate change but ignore population growth as irrational, ignorant or “hiding from the truth”.

Dr. Lovelock, whose appointment as a patron of the Optimum Population Trust is announced today, said the two environmental problems were inseparable and called on greens to “recognise the truth and speak out” on the link between rising human numbers and global warming.*

In a statement released by the trust, he said: “Those who fail to see that population growth and climate change are two sides of the same coin are either ignorant or hiding from the truth. These two huge environmental problems are inseparable and to discuss one while ignoring the other is irrational.”

Dr. Lovelock added: “How can we possibly decrease carbon emissions and land use while the number of emitters and the space they occupy remorselessly increases? When will the environmentalists who claim to be green recognise the truth and speak out?”

Dr. Lovelock, who has warned that climate change will cause mass human mortality over the coming century, reducing the world population total to as little as half a billion, joins a distinguished list of patrons which includes broadcaster and film-maker Sir David Attenborough; the world-renowned primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall; Professor Aubrey Manning, president of the UK’s Wildlife Trusts; Jonathon Porritt, former chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission; and Sir Crispin Tickell, the ex-diplomat credited with the “greening” of former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher (for full list of patrons see below).

Roger Martin, chair of OPT, said he was delighted to welcome Dr. Lovelock as an OPT patron. “The world is due to conclude a new climate change treaty at Copenhagen in December so this is a critical time for anyone concerned with the future of humanity and of the planet.

“We desperately need to remember that future population growth is not a ‘fact’ to be passively accepted but something over which we have control, and that limiting it could therefore play a major role in curbing emissions.** Tragically, the green movement has chosen to forget this. With the help of eminent individuals such as James Lovelock, we will do our best to remind them.”

NOTES:

*In a statement issued earlier this month, OPT called on climate change negotiators to ensure that population restraint policies are adopted by every state worldwide to combat climate change. Family planning programmes in poorer countries should be treated as legitimate candidates for climate change funding. Successful population policies, which answered the unmet need for family planning, could mean nearly three billion fewer people in 2050, a difference equivalent to 44 per cent of current world population (6.8 billion). See: www.optimumpopulation.org/submissions/climatechange09.pdf

**Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals, by Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences/Department of Statistics, Oregon State University, available on sciencedirect.com, calculates that in the US each child adds 9,441 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, equivalent to 5.7 times her lifetime emissions. The study concluded: “A person’s reproductive choices must be considered along with [their] day-to-day activities when assessing [their] ultimate impact on the global environment.” See also: A Population-Based Climate Strategy (OPT Research Briefing) at www.optimumpopulation.org/submissions/opt.sub.briefing.climate.population.May07.pdf.